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Mekong Smile Cruise

Huay Xai, Laos
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About Mekong Smile Cruise
The Laos Mekong River Cruise goes from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang and vice-versa. We offer a 2 day slow boat cruise on overnight in Pakbeng, and we will be happy to help you to get to Chiang Khong - Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, Thailand. Please join us on our luxury cruise and an unforgettable experience of life on the mighty Mekong River.
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PlymouthPete19 wrote a review Mar 2020
Plymouth, United Kingdom239 contributions60 helpful votes
We took the 2 day, 1 night trip from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. Our package included a transfer from Chiang Rai which went very smoothly with a friendly driver who helped us negotiate the Thai border crossing before we met our guide for the boat. He too, assisted us with the Laos entry procedure and remained helpful and friendly throughout the trip. We were also looked after by the family that runs the boat and cooks the food. Note: at the Laos border, you need US dollars that are in pristine condition for the entrance fee. We had 3 different notes rejected just because they had minor imperfections eg a tiny amount of ink on the edge. Also, take note of the border-crossing information provided in advance by Smile - visa photo and payment requirements etc. After a welcoming address, our guide simply provided information in response to questions, so there was no over-the-top commentary while we cruised along. This gave us plenty of time to enjoy the sensation of chugging down the Mekong, a very relaxing experience. The long boat was beautiful - very comfortable without the loss of character that too much luxury can bring. The scenery was beautiful but despite actively looking for birds during the 2 days, the only significant sightings were: Small Pratincoles, Jerdon's Bushchat, Blue Rock Thrushes, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush & White-throated Kingfishers. There were 3 stops on our trip: a Buddha cave, a whisky-maker and a village. All were quite short and, again, not over-the-top nor including any hard sell - a big positive for us. (The village doesn't sound like the same one "Mamsir" experienced). Lunch was pretty good on the first day, a selection of local dishes served buffet-style including soup and some nice fruit and plenty of vegetarian options. However the vegetarian options on the second day were a bit limited and some of the food cold. A few complimentary snacks, soft drinks and coffee was a nice touch.. Hotel transfers in Luang Prabang were all organised by Smile and included in the package, as was help to find our guest house for the overnight stop in Pakbeng. One negative, was that we were due a refund because of a change of accommodation in Pakbeng, and had to ask for this 3 times. We kept getting promised it but it wasn't provided until right at the end, when we were dropped off in Luang Prabang, and then not in US dollars, as promised. Some of the pre-trip booking process and emails also left a bit to be desired but we got there in the end. Overall, we really enjoyed this trip which had many positives and proved an excellent way to travel down the Mekong.
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Date of experience: February 2020
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Joshua Elkin wrote a review Mar 2020
Surrey, United Kingdom19 contributions2 helpful votes
Very relaxing experience from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, well worth the money! The views are amazing. We had a fantastic English speaking guide that took us to two separate villages (Whiskey & Weaving) and the Pak Ou caves. Food on board was to die for! We are now in love with Khaipen. The overnight stay at Pakbeng was nice, we had an explore of the night market and then had food & drinks with the tour group. This was a well needed chill coming straight out of The Gibbon Experience! Highly recommend!
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Date of experience: February 2020
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Nancy KB wrote a review Feb 2020
Holliston, Massachusetts2 contributions
The Slow Boat to Luang Prabong was a relaxing and beautiful way to travel from Thailand to Laos! My friends and I appreciated the pick up by van from Chiang Mai, driving to the border town of Chiang Khong,with several interesting rest stops. The border crossing went very well with the help of our guide Mr Noy. Mr Noy started our trip with a talk about the country, history, and culture of Laos. Throughout the trip he was informative, attentive and funny! The meals and the snacks were excellent and I was impressed by the navigation skills of the "captain", as the river was low, and there were several spots where he had to move about rapids and boulders. I loved relaxing as we made our way down this beautiful area, with the mountains, small villages and activity along the river! Our travel companions were fun to get to know and talk to, and we were all friendly by the time we reached Luang Prabong; we ran into them all several times during our time there! I would highly recommend this tour as a way to change the busy pace of traveling, so as to appreciate this spectacular and interesting part of the world.
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Date of experience: February 2020
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judikloper wrote a review Feb 2020
Portland, Oregon35 contributions33 helpful votes
I and two friends traveled from the border of Thailand/Laos on the slow boat to Luang Prabang and what a wonderful time it was, so relaxing and pretty. Starting with the initial email asking questions, communication was excellent -- answers came promptly and each response answered our questions. We were picked up on time at our hotel in Chiang Mai and brought to the border, stopping along the way at a few sites which were great. The next morning we were again picked up on time and brought to the border area where we had excellent help going through the process of leaving Thailand and entering Laos. Noy, the guide for the trip, was excellent during this whole process. The boat driver and the cook (husband/wife) did a great job and the food was delicious. Our guide, Noy, was so knowledgeable and kind and helpful! We really enjoyed him so much. The stops were enjoyable as well, and while Pakbeng, where we stayed after our first day on the river, was a very sleepy town, there were plenty of little bakeries and some restaurants to serve all the travelers on the other boats too. We arrived on time to Luang Prabang and were driven to our hotel along with the other seven people we shared the trip with; we were from all different countries and had a great time together. I highly recommend Mekong Smile Cruise. It was worth the $$ we paid! (The only recommendation I can think of is that it cool in the mornings, at least when we traveled, and my little jacket was not warm enough. Mekong Smile provides little fleece blankets, but I did not find them warm enough!! Not a big problem.)
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Date of experience: February 2020
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Michael Lenz wrote a review Feb 2020
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Perfect organisation of transfer from Chiang Khong to the boat and in Luang Prabang to the hotel. Very good accommodation in Pak Beng, where we stopped for the night. Very attentive English speaking guide. Delicious complementary food, coffee, tea and water. Other drinks at reasonable prices. The boat was comfortable and the landscape was beautiful. I can strongly recommended Mekong Smile Cruise to everybody who is looking for a two days relaxing cruise.
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Date of experience: January 2020
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